A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 25th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

A song of collusion and fire

U.S President Donald Trump attends a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris — Thursday, July 13, 2017. (AP/Markus Schreiber)

U.S President Donald Trump attends a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris — Thursday, July 13, 2017. (AP/Markus Schreiber)

Over the last several months, the reports of Trump-Russia collusion moved closer and closer to Trump’s inner circle.

Roger Stone. Carter Page. Paul Manafort. Felix Sater. Michael Flynn. Michael Cohen. Jeff Sessions. Jared Kushner. And now, his namesake Donald Trump Jr.

After months of reports of communication—and in some cases meetings in European nations — between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, we got the most damning evidence of potential Trump-Russia collusion thus far.

This week we watched as the dots connected and the picture being revealed is beginning to look more and more like a hammer and sickle.

Here’s a complete breakdown of Trump’s 25th week as POTUS:

25th Weekend (July 8–9)

Like Father, Like Son

Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland — July 20, 2016. (AP/Matt Rourke)

Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland — July 20, 2016. (AP/Matt Rourke)

President Trump returned from the G20 summit to damaging reports regarding his son and his campaign. During the course of this week, the story unfolded quickly. Pay close attention, because Donald Trump Jr.’s lies are telling.

After the New York Times reported on Saturday that Donald Trump Jr., then Trump campaign, Chairman Paul Manafort, and President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with a Russian lawyer days after Trump Sr. clinched the Republican nomination, on Sunday they added to their reporting…and the details are damning:

President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.

Typically here I’d say something along the lines of “if true, this would be the most concrete evidence of attempted collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia thus far.” But, no need for the “if true” part. Trump Jr. admitted it.

Trump Jr.’s first statement after the initial report asserted the meeting was only about adoption. As we can see in this statement, Trump Jr. acknowledged that it clearly wasn’t just about adoption. He clearly states that he anticipated he was going to receive damaging information on his father’s political opponent Hillary Clinton. Even if it was strictly about “adoption” it would’ve been problematic, given the fact Magnitsky Act was expanded in 2016 and now sanctions 44 people worldwide. If this story wasn’t about Jr. seeking dirt, it would’ve been about Trump campaign officials meeting with a Russian lawyer who is lobbying against US-imposed sanctions on Russia.

What we knew about the meeting thus far:

  • Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, the Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, and Rob Goldstone were at this June 9th meeting at Trump tower — 5 people
  • Goldstone, publicist, and former British tabloid reporter, was the intermediary for setting up the meeting
  • Trump Jr. was promised dirt on Clinton before agreeing to attend
  • Veselnitskaya was lobbying against Russian sanctions

Meanwhile…

  • Fresh off his meeting with Russian President Putin, President Trump attempted to allay criticism that he didn’t show strength during the meeting by tweeting he “strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…” Trump appears to validate Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s account of events because we know Trump’s opinion is one of doubting the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was behind the hacks. Chances are, Trump accepted Putin’s denial and moved on
  • Trump also tweeted about creating a Cyber Security unit with Russia (???) and then subsequently assured us it wouldn’t happen. Because, you know, creating a joint cyber security commission with a foreign adversary who just finished an intricate cyber intrusion into your democratic institutions and is already prepping for round 2 in 2018, is ridiculous, to say the least

  • President Trump’s move to allow his daughter Ivanka to sit in for him at G20 angered many

25th Week (July 10–14)

Monday, July 10

Accepting Russian Help

Donald Trump with Emin and Aras Agalarov (Splash News/Newscom)

Donald Trump with Emin and Aras Agalarov (Splash News/Newscom)

Monday night was when The New York Times dropped the bombshell. Not only was Donald Trump Jr. promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton…he was explicitly told that the information being offered was part of the Russian government’s effort to aid Donald Trump Sr. Trump Jr. was told this via email by Rob Goldstone. Goldstone told The New York Times that he was asked to set up the meeting by his client Emin Agalarov, pop star, and son of Russian real estate billionaire oligarch Aras Agalarov, who said that Veselnitskaya had “information about illegal campaign contributions to the D.N.C.” Trump Jr.’s lawyer’s response didn’t deny the allegations, but instead attempted to try and defend Trump Jr.’s willingness to receive help from a foreign adversary:

“In my view, this is much ado about nothing. During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia. Don Jr.’s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign and it was coming from someone he knew. Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed.”

Trump Jr.’s lawyer forgot to address the part about how this meeting may have violated the law.

This fits not only into a broader timeline of reported contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives but of business relationships. As we know, the Trump family has a history business ties with the Agalarovs. As Rantt’s brilliant Deputy Managing Editor Remy Anne notes in her piece on Trump Jr., they almost build a Trump Tower in Moscow together in 2013:

While in Moscow, the elder Trump and Agalarov entered into a formal business deal that would be overseen by Trump Jr. According to an extensive interview with Rob Goldstone (who represents Emin’s musical career) in March, the project consisted of a “licensing deal in which Agalarov would build the tower with Trump’s name on it.”

While the Trump campaign has tried to downplay business dealings in Moscow, it seems that the Agalarov deal was further along than previously believed — going so far to include a trip made by Ivanka to scope out potential sites. However, according to Goldstone, the project was abandoned when the Russian economy floundered as a result of American-imposed sanctions.

These are the same sanctions that the Trump administration spent the first few weeks in office attempting to lift.

What we knew about the meeting thus far:

  • Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, the Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, and Rob Goldstone were at this June 9th meeting at Trump tower — 5 people
  • Goldstone, publicist, and former British tabloid reporter, was the intermediary for setting up the meeting
  • Trump Jr. was promised dirt on Clinton before agreeing to attend
  • Veselnitskaya was lobbying against Russian sanctions
  • Trump Jr. was told it was part of Russia’s effort to support his father’s candidacy
  • Goldstone was told to set up the meeting by the son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov

Meanwhile…

  • Trump Jr. attempted to downplay the meeting

  • President Trump tried to divert attention away from the barrage of incriminating stories constantly hitting his White House

  • President Trump’s voter commission to “investigate voter fraud” aka gather data to boost voter suppression efforts, was put on hold
  • “A few months before President Donald Trump encouraged Saudi Arabia and others to blockade Qatar, the real estate business owned by the family of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, sought a substantial investment from one of the Gulf State country’s wealthiest and most politically influential figures” — Bloomberg
  • Further confirmation Goldstone attended the meeting

  • This video of Donald Trump Jr. denying that Russia was seeking to aid his father is dishonesty at its finest

Tuesday, July 11

The Email Confirmation

In an effort to get ahead of The New York Times’ incoming report on the details of the email correspondence between himself and Rob Goldstone, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted them out. It validated the earlier reporting. Goldstone emailed Trump Jr.:

“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin.

Was Trump Jr.’s response “What Russian support for my father?” or silence and then a swift call to the FBI? No. Trump Jr. replied:

“Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing when I get back next week?”

Trump Jr. seemed neither surprised nor disturbed by the information that the Russian government was supporting his father or that the “compromising” information he was about to receive on Clinton was from them. Either this wasn’t the first time Trump Jr. was told about the ongoing Russian support for his father or he just didn’t care. Either way, what Trump Jr. did was deplorable and potentially illegal.

An under-discussed aspect of the email chain is the fact that there appears to have been a phone call between Emin Agalarov and Trump Jr. Remy Anne reported:

An important note hidden in these emails is the fact that they seem to imply that Trump Jr. and Emin spoke on the phone on June 6th. In a series of exchanges between Goldstone and Trump Jr., the two coordinate a phone conversation as soon as Emin finishes performing on stage. Nearly an hour later, Trump Jr. replies — unprompted — “Rob thanks for the help.” None of Trump Jr.’s public comments have expanded on the information that may have been revealed during this phone call.

What we knew about the meeting thus far:

  • Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, the Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, and Rob Goldstone were at this June 9th meeting at Trump tower — 5 people
  • Goldstone, publicist, and former British tabloid reporter, was the intermediary for setting up the meeting
  • Trump Jr. was promised dirt on Clinton before agreeing to attend
  • Veselnitskaya was lobbying against Russian sanctions
  • Trump Jr. was told it was part of Russia’s effort to support his father’s candidacy (now with email confirmation via Trump Jr. himself)
  • Goldstone was told to set up the meeting by the son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov
  • Trump Jr. didn’t appear surprised by Goldstone’s declaration that the Russian government supports his father
  • There seemed to have been a phone call between Emin Agalarov and Donald Trump Jr.

Meanwhile…

  • The White House asserted that they learned of the meeting in just the past couple of days…From what we learn later in the week, that is highly unlikely
  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly plans to examine Trump Jr.’s email exchanges as part of the Trump-Russia investigation
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) delayed the start of the Senate’s August recess so that they can get more time to work on the health care bill
  • President Trump has secret teams dedicated to rolling back regulations

Wednesday, July 12

A Coordinated Spread Of Disinformation

White House Adviser, and Trump’s Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

White House Adviser, and Trump’s Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

A Mcclatchy DC report dropped that revealed a widened scope of the Trump-Russia investigation that could even further incriminate the Trump campaign. It’s what we’ve long suspected and reported on at Rantt, but to see congressional committees look into it is a damning development for the Trump administration. This is quite the development so I’ll just let you read the excerpt for yourself.

Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation — overseen by Jared Kushner — helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states — areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks.

If the Trump campaign did indeed coordinate the spread of fake news and the release of stolen DNC emails, this would depict an intricate collusion effort between a foreign adversary and an American political party in an effort to seize power.

Speaking of Jared Kushner, he has been under heavy scrutiny and investigation since his attempt to create a back channel line of communication with Russia via Sergey Kislyak was revealed, and he’s making no attempts to be more honest. Kushner had to amend his SF-86 (the form you fill out to receive a security clearance) numerous times and had to add over 100 foreign contacts.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied on his SF-86 as well.

This offense can yield up to 5 years in prison…

Meanwhile…

  • The Wall Street Journal reported that “Investigators are re-examining conversations detected by U.S. intelligence agencies in spring 2015 that captured Russian government officials discussing associates of Donald Trump, according to current and former U.S. officials…In some cases, the Russians in the overheard conversations talked about meetings held outside the U.S. involving Russian government officials and Trump business associates or advisers, these people said.” This corroborates a report from The Guardian that revealed the British Intelligence Agency GCHQ intercepted similar contacts in 2015 and told US intelligence officials about it

Thursday, July 13

“I wouldn’t go to France”

The day McConnell delayed the health care vote, President Donald Trump met with Republican senators in the White House. Seated with him, from left, are Dean Heller (R-NV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah — Tuesday, June 27, 2017 (AP/Susan Walsh)

The day McConnell delayed the health care vote, President Donald Trump met with Republican senators in the White House. Seated with him, from left, are Dean Heller (R-NV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah — Tuesday, June 27, 2017 (AP/Susan Walsh)

As President Trump headed off to France for Bastille Day, Senate Republicans at home unveiled their latest attempt at a health care bill. This bill had a new Cruz Amendment which allowed for the purchase of cheaper plans but did nothing to sway moderate Republicans like Senator Susan Collins (ME) who remained staunchly opposed due to the steep Medicaid cuts.

The bill appeared to be DOA, as Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) were also no’s. As this unfolded, Senator Linsday Graham (R-SC) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) outlined an alternative health care plan. The GOP’s latest effort appeared shaky, to say the least, but McConnell was hard at work trying to rally the votes.

Meanwhile…

  • While in France at a joint press conference with French President Macron, President Trump struck a friendlier tone with France in an effort to reaffirm our cooperative ties with the nation. After infamously quoting his imaginary friend Jim as not wanting to go to France anymore because “France is no longer France,” it appeared the President has changed his mind
  • At this press conference, President Trump defended Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer, stating that it most people would’ve taken that meeting and there was nothing wrong with it. To President Trump continued:

“It’s called opposition research or even research into your opponent”

  • Yahoo News reported that President Trump’s attorneys learned of Trump Jr.’s meeting weeks ago and that Jared Kushner’s lawyers were the ones who discovered the emails. This puts into question President Trump’s assertions that he had no idea about the meeting until this week

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee wants both Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort to testify before the committee
  • CNN obtained exclusive video of Trump in 2013 with Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov, Rob Goldstone, and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen
  • Vice President Mike Pence’s spokesman refused to say whether or not Pence met with Russians during the campaign
  • Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sparked outrage when she met with people who were accused of sexual assault while she considers limits to Title IX protections for victims on college campuses
  • Oh, and Trump brought his creepy misogyny with him to France

Friday, July 14

The Never Ending Story

Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, at a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York — Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, at a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York — Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Donald Trump Jr. meeting that June 9, 2016, day is a story that seems to have no end, and on Friday, we were hit with development after development. First, we learned that there was a 6th person at the meeting. It was Russian-American lobbyist, and “former” Soviet counterintelligence officer accused of an international hacking conspiracy, Rinat Akhmetshin. There was also a Russian interpreter/translator, so that makes 7 people. In an interview with the Associated Press, Akhmetshin said that the Russian lawyer brought documents with incriminating details on the Democratic Party:

In his first public interview about the meeting, Akhmetshin said he accompanied Veselnitskaya to Trump Tower where they met an interpreter. He said he had learned about the meeting only that day when Veselnitskaya asked him to attend. He said he showed up in jeans and a T-shirt.

Veselnitskaya brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democrats, Akhmetshin said. Veselnitskaya presented the contents of the documents to the Trump associates and suggested that making the information public could help the campaign, he said.

Soon after this news broke, CNN reported that there was an 8th person at the meeting aside from everyone we’ve listed thus far. Their identity is still unknown. Many speculated that it could be yet another Russian. There were some very solid guesses on Twitter:

Jokes aside, amid this speculation, us at Rantt began to dig into President Trump’s schedule to see what he was up to. Although we can’t definitively say President Trump was at this meeting, what we can say is that it is very unlikely that President Trump wasn’t aware of this meeting. Let’s look at the events that happened that Summer ‘16:

June 3: Donald Trump Jr. began email correspondence with Rob Goldstone and set up the meeting

June 6: Donald Trump Jr. appeared to have a phone conversation with Emin Agalarov

June 7: Two days before the meeting at Trump Tower then-candidate Trump promised a speech exposing the Clintons

“I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week, and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”

June 9:

Are we supposed to believe that President Trump, a well-known micro-manager, was at Trump Tower while key players from his campaign held this meeting where there was the potential to obtain compromising information on his political opponent and he not only didn’t attend but had no idea it took place? Yeah right.

What we know about the meeting thus far:

  • Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, the Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rob Goldstone, Rinat Akhmetshin, Russian interpreter, and a mystery person were at this June 9th meeting at Trump tower — 8 people
  • Goldstone, publicist, and former British tabloid reporter, was the intermediary for setting up the meeting
  • Trump Jr. was promised dirt on Clinton before agreeing to attend
  • Veselnitskaya was lobbying against Russian sanctions
  • Trump Jr. was told it was part of Russia’s effort to support his father’s candidacy (now with email confirmation via Trump Jr. himself)
  • Goldstone was told to set up the meeting by the son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov
  • Trump Jr. didn’t appear surprised by Goldstone’s declaration that the Russian government supports his father
  • There seemed to have been a phone call between Emin Agalarov and Donald Trump Jr.
  • Veselnitskaya may have brought documents with compromising material on the Democratic Party to the meeting

Meanwhile…

  • One of Kushner’s lawyers stepped back from representing him in the Trump-Russia investigation
  • After Trump blamed Loretta Lynch’s DOJ during the Obama administration for letting in Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, the DHS released a statement clarifying that it was actually the Department of State that let her into the US in 2016
  • The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to review the Hawaii district Judge’s ruling that blocked the component of the travel ban that prevents Grandparents of US citizens from the banned countries from entering the US

  • “Trump Lawyer Marc Kasowitz Threatens Stranger in Emails: ‘Watch Your Back , Bitch’” — ProPublica
  • After John McCain (R-AZ) went into surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye, McConnell announced that the Senate would delay the health care vote until his return…and we’ve recently learned that might not be for another 2–3 weeks

I ended last week’s Unpresidented saying if this is what is public, imagine what Special Counsel Robert Mueller has found…well, after this week, we know there is still much more to uncover.

Normally I wrap up with thoughts on whether or not the GOP leadership will wake up and take action, but this time, I turn to their constituents. I’m left wondering when will enough be enough for Trump’s supporters. I thought maybe rather than seeing it in a NYT report and seeing Trump Jr. tweet out his own emails depicting a Trump campaign open to election help from a foreign adversary, it would raise some eyebrows, but I still see blind loyalty.

I’m not sure what it will take to sew the divisions within our democracy, but as long as a segment of our population believes that everything other than Fox News is fake news, we’re in trouble. As we look forward to 2018 and try and protect ourselves from future interferences in our political process, the American people’s susceptibility to disinformation is one of our nation’s greatest weaknesses. No cyber security unit can fix that. Only a collective effort of spreading as much truth and sanity as we possibly we can will do the trick.

Thank you for reading! Doing these weekly roundups takes a lot of effort so I hoped you enjoyed it! If you want to be part of this and support independent journalism so I can keep providing these weekly breakdowns, please donate to us on Rantt’s Patreon. Thanks again and see you next week!

Rantt Media is creating Context-rich analysis & journalism | Patreon

Stay in the know and subscribe to our newsletter by following us on Rantt

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism / Politics